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Practice Makes Perfect: Preventing School Sports Injuries

The final days of summer are here. While children prepare to head back to school, many are also looking forward to school sports. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, more than 7.8 million boys and girls participated in U.S. high school sports during the 2015-2016 academic year. While school sports are a positive outlet to build social connections and physical endurance, they also present opportunities for injury. From outdoor sports, such as football and baseball, to indoor sports like basketball and gymnastics, sports-related injuries are common. The good news? Practice makes perfect regarding injury prevention, as well as during the game. Many injuries can be prevented by taking proactive measures.

A few sports and their related injuries may include:

  • Football: Due to its high contact nature, football is a dangerous sport. Common injuries could include knee ligament tears, ankle sprains, concussions, as well as neck, shoulder and spine injuries.
  • Soccer: As players sprint down the field trying to control the ball with their feet, they run the risk of ligament tears and hamstring strains.
  • Field Hockey: Getting struck by a hockey stick or a flying puck can result in fractures, ligament tears and sprains.
  • Gymnastics: With all the flips and tricks gymnasts perform, their bodies are continuously enduring strenuous activity which may lead to strains, sprains, fractures and dislocations.

As parents and grandparents, we want to continually protect our children, but it’s nearly impossible without the help from school administrators, teachers, and coaches. Here are a few things you can do to minimize the possibility of your child’s injury:

Inspect school facilities: Give yourself peace of mind by checking the medical and first aid facilities and personnel available at your child’s school.

  • You never know what can happen while you’re away, so make sure there’s a proper medical emergency plan in place for your child’s safety.
  • Ask the school administration or coach to see the sports facilities and equipment to confirm that they are well maintained.
  • Ensure the coaching staff is properly qualified and trained in providing first aid.

Prepare your child: Every successful athlete knows the three key components for a healthy and injury-free season and your child can too. 1.) Stay well hydrated. 2.) Wear proper safety equipment such as helmets and pads. 3.) Properly warm up before and cool down after any rigorous activity.

  • If your child has any medical conditions, you need to get clearance from your family doctor on any level of sports activity.
  • Encourage your child to immediately stop playing and speak up if they feel tired or dizzy as pushing too hard can lead to exhaustion, dehydration or serious injury.
  • Ensure your child gets adequate rest and recovery time including at least eight hours of sleep every night.

Practice makes perfect on both ends of the spectrum. Parents, grandparents, and caregivers must educate themselves on school sports safety and children should train safely and listen to their bodies. By taking precautions and educating our children, we can minimize serious injuries and keep them active year-round. Here’s to a safe and winning season!

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